A new public-private partnership will allow construction activities to begin on an East Texas lake that has been in the works for decades, Addison-based Tomlin Infrastructure Group LLC recently announced.
Once completed, the lake is projected to cover 10,000 surface acres and be about 15 miles long, with the dam site about 5 miles southeast of Jacksonville. Its anticipated yield is 85,507 acre-feet annually for use by water supply customers, which include Whitehouse, Jacksonville, Troup and Rusk.
According to a news release, Tomlin Infrastructure Group plans to have a financial partner to share the majority of these rights, which entails 34,202 acre feet.
Tomlin’s announcement comes shortly after Angelina and Neches River Authority General Manager Kelley Holcomb told a crowd in Jacksonville that ANRA was trying to leverage private dollars to fund interim project activities.
He discussed efforts made so far, as well as the future of Lake Columbia.
Holcomb has said a public hearing was held in March 2010 about the project’s environmental impact statement - a document that details the Lake Columbia proposal and its impact on things such as cultural resources, agriculture and homes. It also serves as a tool for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when it makes a decision on a 404 permit, which is needed for construction activities to begin.
But after the public hearing and public comment period, state agencies and a couple of federal agencies commented in great detail about the document. As a result, the corps of engineers asked ANRA to look at the document again.
The ANRA then went through consultations with attorneys and consulting engineers, and looked at what it would take to get the construction permit if there was no money limit.
Holcomb has said the original 23-item task list was estimated at $17.2 million. After boiling the list down to necessary items, the price tag was estimated at $13 million just to get to a point where the corps could make a decision on the permit. Then after checking off other items, they found that at minimum they must have $5 million to continue permitting activities for Lake Columbia, Holcomb said earlier this month.
He has said ANRA talked with the original participants, and eventually decided to take the 47 percent of unallocated water and begin marketing it to entities that are big water users, such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
However, those entities indicated they would love to participate but can't because of political processes, he has said, so ANRA began working toward nontraditional funding on an interim basis so the bigger government entities can afford to take advantage of that new water supply.
Then in August, the ANRA board approved a contract to grant a broker the right to market Lake Columbia water to the ultimate end user, Holcomb has said.